This marks the third occasion that the ITA is responsible for the anti-doping program of La Vuelta Ciclista a España (26th August – 17th September) since the delegation of the cycling clean sport program by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). In this capacity, the ITA oversees the overarching anti-doping strategy, which encompasses the intelligence-led and targeted testing plan for the event. This plan is devised through a thorough risk assessment that factors in a wide array of variables and can be dynamically adjusted based on real-time circumstances or emerging information. Additionally, the testing plan incorporates all pertinent data gleaned from the scrutiny of athletes’ biological passports or collected by the ITA’s Intelligence & Investigations (I&I) Department.
Anti-doping controls during La Vuelta will be focused and conducted throughout the three-week race, extending beyond just the finish line. Furthermore, each stage will witness the testing of the overall classification leader and the daily stage winner. Moreover, all athletes will undergo pre-event controls as part of the biological passport program prior to the race’s commencement. At the conclusion of the event, the ITA will select samples for retention, potentially available for re-analysis within the upcoming ten years.
Additionally, all participants, including prospective entrants falling within the ITA’s target group for testing, have been vigilantly monitored throughout the year and subjected to out-of-competition controls prior to embarking on this third Grand Tour.
In December 2022, a substantial increase in financial resources dedicated to the cycling anti-doping program was decided by the cycling stakeholders. The UCI, UCI WorldTeams, UCI ProTeams, UCI WorldTour organisers, and male professional road cyclists have collectively resolved to bolster the ITA’s capability in safeguarding the sport’s integrity. This commitment involves a progressive 35% budget increase, amounting to nearly 10 million Swiss francs by the end of 2024. This funding predominantly supports domains such as I&I, testing operations, scientific research, data analysis, long-term sample storage, and subsequent re-analysis.